Coal plants on the way at site of Turkey’s first nuclear plant, former minister claims
Works to clear the area where the plant will be built are already ongoing, although the official start of construction is set for spring 2015.Several coal plants and a cement factory are planned to be built near the site of Turkey’s first prospective nuclear plant in the eastern Mediterranean district of Akkuyu, an opposition politician has claimed.
A former minister and member of the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) Mersin provincial assembly, Fikri Sağlar, claimed that up to 10 coal plants could be built in the surrounding area to provide the necessary energy for the massive construction works for the nuclear plant.
Environmental activists are also wary about damage to the area’s natural beauty that the plant will cause, and have also expressed concerns over the release of hot waters used for cooling the facility, which will be built by Russian company Rosatom. According to experts, this will lead to a rise in sea temperatures and likely destroy the habitat for seals and sea lions.
“The construction [of the nuclear plant] will take five years. A cement factory will be built in order to provide the necessary concrete for the works. In addition, three coal plants according to some rumors, or 10 according to others, will also be built [to provide] the necessary energy,” Sağlar said.
“All these facilities will be built in a natural wonder, as if a nuclear plant wasn’t enough. They are also constructing a port to replace the fishing harbor, but there are homes for sea lions close to that area. They will finish off the region,” he added.
Initial construction activities at the site have already started, though the official date for the start of the works is next spring. The first reactor is slated to generate power in 2018, while the other three are expected to start operating by 2023.
Putin ‘bribed’ by environmental report
Meanwhile, CHP Mersin MP Aytuğ Atıcı has slammed the Environment Ministry for approving the disputed environmental impact assessment report (ÇED) for the plant just one day before Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Ankara on Dec. 1.
“The ÇED process was the victim of a bribe to Putin. They will now speed up works, but we will also step up our resistance,” Atıcı said.
He also said he expected individual lawsuits at the Constitutional Court to suspend the execution of the environmental impact report.
For its part, Rosatom has reportedly started a concerted public relations campaign, distributing gifts to increase support among locals for the plant.
“Radiation affects the whole society. It doesn’t have any political preferences. The potential damage of the plant to the environment and to human life in the future should be explained very well,” said Seyfettin Anar, a spokesman for the anti-nuclear platform in Mersin.
Anar also called for a referendum for the project, stressing that the debate over the nuclear plant should not be turned into a “political debate.”
“A regional referendum should be held; not only in Mersin, but we should add Adana, Antalya and even Cyprus, because all of these regions will be affected by the plant,” he said.
The Turkish government’s aggressive energy policies that often disregard legal processes in favor of construction companies are increasingly coming under fire by civil society groups, with a number of massive projects across the country prompting local resistance movements.